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Charles Mills (1832–1916)

from Grenfell Record

Charles Mills, n.d.

Charles Mills, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1916

(From the ' Riverine Grazier,' of 23rd May, 1916.)

We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. Charles Mills, of Uardry, which took place at his Melbourne residence, Fyans Lodge, Toorak, on Saturday afternoon. For some years Mr. Mills had been unable to take an active part in the management of his station, owing to the physical weakness that is inseparable from increasing years, and latterly he has been failing so fast that his death was not unexpected. He was in his 85th year at the time of his passing away.

The deceased gentleman was the oldest pastoralist in the Hay district, and we believe, the oldest on the Murrumbidgee River. He could almost claim to be a pioneer. He was one of  those who made a success of legitimate grazing— the breeding of sheep and the selling of their produce of wool and lambs. He had great faith in the district and had experienced its good times and its dry seasons to an extent that few have equalled. Mr. Mills was the son of a sheep farmer in Peebleshire, Scotland, Mr. George Mills, well known in his day. He was born in Selkirkshire, the adjoining shire, but he was brought up at his father's ''Horsebrugh Casile Farm, in Peebles. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, and after obtaining eight years' farming experience in Scotland, he startd out for Australia, in the sailing ship Greyhound, in the year 1863. Mr. Mills' first experience of sheep in Australia was gained in the northeastern district of Victoria, at Mount Pleasant Station, then owned by Mr. McKenzie. The holding carried about 30,000 sheep, winch ran on comparatively rough mountainous country. When he left that he had had sufficient knowledge of Australian conditions to warrant the step, Mr. Mills went into grazing on his own account, with two partners, Mesers. Andrew Neilson and J. J. Smart. They bought Morton Plains and Watchem, two big leaseholds in the north-western district of Victoria, on the fringe of the Mallee. Those two runs are now wheat, farms and grazing properties no led for rearing and fat Inning lambs, but in those days they were considered risky country. Railway development and modern agricultural machinery have altered the conditions of that part of Victoria most materially and land occupation there is very different to what it was in Mr. Mills' day. In 1873 Mr. Mills sold his interest in Morton Plains and Watchem, and took a trip to Scotland. Whilst at Home he married a daughter of the late John Ainslie, of Fairfield Estate, near Edinburgh, and it was upon his return to Australia that he bought Uardry, in conjunction with his partners, Messrs. Neilson and Smith. That was in 1876. In later years, upon the death o.f his partners, Mr. Mills bought all the interests in Uardry, and he maintained his connexion with the station up to the day of his death. Mrs. Mills and a family of three sons and two daughters survive the veteran pastoralist. The sons are Mr. Charles Geo. Mills, of Bald Hills, Grenfell; Mr. Neilson Mills, of Uardry; Mr. William A. Mills, of Ruthven, Isisford, Queensland. His wife and his sons took a keen interest in his work as a sheep breeder, and those who knew the family can speak of the helpful influence exerted by Mrs. Mills and the buoyant resourcefulness and confidence she 'displayed in the years which it has been the lot of every Riverina grazier to experience, .when climatic conditions were heartbreaking, and prices for stock and wool were not satisfactory. How far Mrs. Mills' encouraging confidence and the great help afforded by his competent and enthusiastic sons, stimulated and sustained the deceased gentleman in his life's work, can only be conjectured, but there is no doubt whatever that it was a most material aid. Mr. Mills' eldest son, Ainslie, died deeply regreted by all who knew him, in 1908, and the active management of Uardry, which was then in his hands, devolved upon Mr. Neilson Mills, the present manager, under whose untiring and capable administration the fame of the Uardry flock has been worthily upheld. The Uardry stud flocks with which Mr. Mills' name will be long associated, is one of the best 'known in Australia. It was formed at Uardry by previous owners of the run, Messrs. Wragge and Hearne, in 1864, who purchased 5000 four-year-old ewes from Messrs. Peppin Bros., for the purpose. Mr. Mills purchased the sheep with the property and devoted his life to maintaining and improving the Quality of the flock. That he succeeded is admitted, and it will likewise be admitted that he succeeded in imbuing his son, the present manager of Uardry, with a like enthusiasm for the success of the flock.

The deceased gentleman never had any great liking for public affairs his life's work was his hobby, and he devoted his whole attention to it. Soon after he came to Uardry he was elected a director of the Hay Board of Sheep Directors, his colleagues being Messrs. Ewan McPherson (Chairman of Benduck); Andrew McFarland, of Thelengerin; James Russell, of Lli Elwah ; and Duncan Sinclair, of Toogimbie; but in 1882, when he found that the late Mr. C. G; Stewart, of Wooloondool, was willing to act, he stood down to make way for that gentleman. It is worthy of note in passing,  that three sons of former sheep directors of the Hay Board are now directors of the Hay Pastures Protection Board, the successors of the old sheep board, viz., Messrs. Neilson Mills, Gordon Ayre, and George Melrose. When the Hay Pastoral Society was one of the noted sheep shows of the State, Mr. Mills was a large and most successful exhibitor, and he continued to take high honors with Uardry sheep here, until the showing of sheep dropped out of fashion.

In private life Mr. Mills was a most lovable man and an excellent host. During their long residence at Uardry Mr. and Mrs. Mills took a leading part in the social life of the district, and their home was one of the best known on the river. The. severity of our summers has lately, proved too severe for Mr. Mills, and acting under medical advice, he has spent the greater part of the hot months in Melbourne, but he was at Uardry as much as practicable, and never ceased to take an active interest in the run and in the district.

With the death of Mr. Mills there has passed away the head of one of the oldest district families, and although it is but the nature of things that the veterans must go "with the sunset and the evening star," their doing so makes a wrench with the past that is greatly felt, especially by the older residents. When one of the captains of Australia's leading industry is taken away, it is as if a fruitful tree had been uprooted. The late Mr. Mills was a captain of industry, one who was well trained for his work, and who carried it on in such a thorough way as to lead to a material addition to the wealth and potentialities of Australia.

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Citation details

'Mills, Charles (1832–1916)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Charles Mills, n.d.

Charles Mills, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1916

Life Summary [details]


Peeblesshire, Scotland


10 May, 1916 (aged ~ 84)
Toorak, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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